This is my peer team from last year!
I am a campus pastor in Denton, specifically the UNT and TWU campuses. I found FOCUS (Fellowship of Christian University Students) at the end of my freshman year of college at UNT. I absolutely love the friends I was able to make as I became more invested in the community. I'm still close friends with many of the people I met during those three years. During my junior and senior year, I had the opportunity to learn more about ministry and serving people by being a corefa. (That's a core facilitator. And cores are our small, same-gendered groups where we learn to live out Scripture together and develop friendships.) I absolutely loved getting to build friendships with the girls in my core as we studied the Bible together and got to hang out around town! I was also invested in and developed as a leader by the campus pastors. That experience meant I grew a ton in my own relationship with God and in helping others pursue Him.
My core at Winter camp 2018
As I approached graduation in 2018, God consistently kept nudging me toward ministry. I was studying chemistry to go into forensic science and I care a lot about doing ministry in secular workplaces. But the more I prayed, the more I felt called to stick with FOCUS after I graduated. FOCUS offers an apprenticeship program where post-grads can commit 10 months to on-the-ground ministry with students and student leaders and intense classes that help develop ministry skills. So I got the opportunity to do this! I worked closely with our campus staff to plan events, think pastorally about students and leaders, and learn to guide our community as the Spirit leads us.
This is the Denton staff I got to work with during my apprenticeship year.
These are the 2018-2019 apprentices I got to have classes with and learn from!
I really fell in love with ministry during that year and ended up committing to four more years with FOCUS. Last year (2019-2020) was my first year of that commitment. I got to be a corefa again and a peer team leader. (Peer team leaders are usually staff members who lead a group of corefas. The group together is a peer team. I meet with each corefa once a week and we talk through core, leadership, discipleship, and life things together.) I really loved being a corefa again but I think my favorite part is being a peer team leader. I love getting to know these girls who have committed to serving God and their community while they are going through so much growing up in college. They really bless me so much and teach me again and again about faith.
Jess and I put together some care packages for the homeless.
All that to say, I really am so pumped for the year! We'll face unique challenges as we figure out meeting new people during a pandemic. But the Lord is faithful and He is up to something. Maybe this year isn't about having lots of new faces around, although there is a big need for community right now and I pray that the lonely on campus will find friendship. But maybe this year for all of us is more about God solidifying His people to be ones marked by stability and perseverance. Instead of us finding our stability in routine, maybe God is teaching us to really put our faith in Him. We know that the Lord uses times of suffering to produce perseverance (Romans 5:3-5). This is a time for us to persevere, to really take the opportunities God gives us seriously, and to trust Him with the outcome.
Already, some surprising blessings have come out of this time. Our plan for the year is to mainly focus on cores, keeping them small and taking the precautions necessary. Because we're limiting their size, we needed more corefas to step up so we could have more cores. Before we could even worry about that, God provided close to 15 more corefas than last year! So many students have more flexible time with online classes that they can commit to leading! Also, TWU tends to have fewer corefas but this year we have almost the same number of women's cores at each campus! I think God is preparing us now to really bless these campuses, and we haven't even started the year yet.
Ways to pray:
Please join me in praying for this year, for the students we need to encounter, and for the leaders God has given us.
Please pray for the universities to communicate their plans quickly and clearly so we can plan accordingly.
Pray for our staff to move with wisdom adn to strike the right balance of caution and boldness.
More about me:
Here's a few quick things you should know about me!
I have a doggo. That's it, that's all you need to know.
Meet Blue Belle!
Just kidding! You should also know that I am married to Jon Smith, who I met through FOCUS. We got married a year ago July! Does that mean I'm no longer a newly-wed?
I'm so very excited to partner with each of you in ministry and to share with you what God does on these campuses. Please always feel free to respond to these updates and let me know how you're doing and how I can be praying for you!